Submarines are one of the most valuable assets of the modern Navy, and modern submarines can go almost anywhere in the world, with high stealth capability, a stay at sea for several months at a time, and powerful tactical and strategic firepower, which is extremely important to naval commanders. The Royal Navy recently invested more than 2.5 million pounds in the development of an ultra-large self-driving submarine.
The new test submarine, 30 metres long and larger than Boeing’s Orca eXtra Large Underwater Vehicle (XLUUV), will be used to study how to build and operate robotic submarines for conventional naval services. The self-driving submarines will be able to monitor, detect and counter-submarine warfare, adding strength to manned submarines.
To help develop future XLUUvs, the Uk Ministry of Defence, through the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) organisation, has authorised a contract initially worth 1 million pounds to Plymouth’s MSubs Ltd. to study the construction of a test submarine with a range of 3,000 nautical miles. As part of the first phase of this research and development, the Royal Navy’s Autonomous Underwater Capability Program is working with the Naval and Defense Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) to study the feasibility of transforming manned submersibles into autonomous operations. If the initial tests are successful, the Ministry of Defence will allocate additional funds.
Although the 30-metre is small compared to the 97-metre Astute-class submarine, the XLUUV is essentially a full-size submarine that does not need to consider crew space. The self-driving submarine will be highly stealthy, especially without a crew, and will automatically leave and return to the docks during a three-month voyage. Eventually, such submarines will also be able to take on a number of tasks comparable to manned submarines, which will give the latter time to perform more important tasks.
Unusually, this self-driving submarine will also be less expensive to build and operate than a manned submarine.